10km training run; Hill Running.

Today was my longest run since surgery… And I feel great.  I actually don’t mind running hills. I like the satisfaction of beating them, and while I don’t actually carry a stick, I do beat them in my mind with a big, big stick.

Up at 7am this morning, a little reluctant to get out of bed, but I got out from under that warm doona and I headed down to the coast.

Mount Eliza has some great hills for running and our trainer mapped a course that is challenging and makes you work.

The first 1.5km is up a hill, a long gradual climb of roughly 70m in elevation. It keeps going after a short reprieve up a few more hills to roughly 80m elevation, then back down to sea level… It was a 5km course that we got to do twice… As the Run Melbourne Half Marathon is a twice around course, this is how we train.

So after I did it once, it was back to that long gradual hill, I just kept putting one foot in front of the other. I did not stop once this morning, I did not walk any hill or section of the run (with the exception of the slippery set of stairs) I might have been the slowest in my group, but I am not competing against any one, just myself, and my mind.

When running hills I may slow down a little, but I don’t stop and I don’t walk – I keep that running action and use my glute muscles like pistons to push me up the hills. It is not how fast you are, It is not about who beats you, it is about getting it done! and today, well I got it done!

Hill runs are great for building power and endurance into your legs because as you run you are using your body weight as resistance up the hills. I have found in the past that after a hard hill run, I run better the next week. It improves my strength and then when I go back to flats I notice an improvement in my time.

It would be easy to take the easy option when planning training runs and avoid the big hills, or map an easier route, but I encourage all you runners out there to put in some hill work every couple of weeks and notice how it improves your running. Here are a few tips; Make sure you warm up properly before setting out. Drop your regular speed a little on the hill and take a shorter stride. On the down hill avoid placing your foot way out in front and opening up the speed, while this is tempting this can cause a lot of stress to be placed through your knee and makes you more prone to injuries. Listen to your body and if your heart rate is climbing then slow the pace down a little but try to keep up the running action because this is not about speed as much as getting it done!

Finally – stretch out properly after the run, take your time to add a few more stretches over the day and the next day… and allow your body some time to recover before your next run.

Here is a good article from Runner World too!  Can Hill Running Make You Faster?.

Till next time, Lin xox

PS – I am no Dr, so if you are starting to run make sure you get cleared to exercise and all that jazz, don’t just listen to me!

One Year On – Here I go again!

Well kids, the time has come to begin training for the half marathon in July, leading into the full marathon in Oct. The July event is called Run Melbourne and the half marathon (21.1km) course consists of two laps on the course around my beautiful city.

I did this event last year, but competed in the 10km run… This year I am running the half distance. The run package I started last year was building up to run the 10km, we started week 1 of training with 4km.

I did my first training run on Monday (was sick Sunday so couldn’t run with my group) and I did 8km… It was a great feeling to know that I am fitter and healthier and love running, and that because of the hard work I have put in, I can start training at the distance that I worked up to this time last year. Sometimes reflecting on how far you have come is a great way to think about where you can be in another years time. I love the saying above – so true – I can look back and be grateful for all my hard work from last year, and continue to live a life that will bear fruit a year from now!

Striving for something more, being passionate, working towards new goals is something that gets me excited. Sunday’s are my long run day. Every Sunday I meet up with the Step Into Life Mordialloc training group for the runs. This coming Sunday – 10km on hills in Mount Eliza… Bring it on

Till next time, Lin xox

Coping & Routine

We all have strategies that we utilise to cope with navigating our world. I was discussing this idea earlier in the week and reflecting upon some of my personal practices.

Coping mechanisms can be healthy and unhealthy.  Having a big night out with a few too many drinks and bad moves on the dance floor can be good to let off some steam, drinking by yourself every night not healthy… Eating a bowl of ice-cream after  hard day not too bad occasionally; eating the tub, a large pizza and a packet of cookies (in one sitting), not so good.

Exercising is a healthy option, often under utilised and under estimated. Studies have shown that even a simple 30 min walk each day can help in improving mood and decreasing some of the symptoms of depression. I wrote recently about not being able to run (which is my personal preferred coping mechanism now). When this was off the table, I slipped into some unhealthy coping strategies and ate more than I usually would, in particular foods that I attempt to limit.

Part of the reason that I believe that I went back to older patterns quicker was that I hadn’t re-established my exercise routine after surgery in February. I wasn’t back to training until April, the routine wasn’t solid yet, the routine didn’t have enough time to solidify prior to the confluence of life situations that lead to me feeling overwhelmed. Here is the key… Pattern and Routine.

Pattern and Routine are essential for us to be able to navigate through each day and keep our emotions, thoughts and feelings in a state of relative order. To be in a space of emotional safety and allow us to move through life and cope with what the world flings at us. When our pattern and routines are not established, take a hit or become disrupted we can fall back into easier or older coping mechanisms.

Recently, when my “Perfect Storm” of stressors rose up it wiped me, my running and my exercise out. This lead to falling back into old thinking and patterns – Honestly, this scared the crap out of me. I have worked hard over the past 4 years to move the weight and change my patterns of coping. While I didn’t completely fall off the wagon or relapse – I felt a little out of control and that I was trying to hold onto water with it only to run straight through my fingers.

This got me thinking – There will likely come a time when I am faced with another “Perfect Storm” of stressors. That is just the way of the world; we cannot (despite trying) control all the factors of our lives. This has pushed me to think about extending my coping mechanisms and routines to include other healthy coping mechanisms on a regular basis.  This will allow me to build into my routine new coping mechanisms and use them on a regular basis, so, that if the day comes that I am not able to run or walk, or move as I would like, I will have another healthy way of working through the stress, thoughts, feelings and emotions. It is a bit like exercising a muscle, the more you train and work that muscle the stronger it becomes. I need to exercise new coping strategies, make them strong and build them into my life.

So my question to myself and one that you can ask yourself is this; What do I enjoy that can become a solid practice in my life  (part of my routine) that will allow me to cope and deal with the stressors of life in a healthy way?

Some ideas for me to explore are having focusing methods and projects,  understanding meditative practice better, and incorporating reading and writing as reflective practice.

I would be interested in reading your ideas or thoughts about this so feel free to leave a comment.

Till next time, Lin.

Mum

I am not a mum to my own children. I have been a foster carer in a past life, and that gave me an incredible insight into parenting at some levels. It is the hardest job in the world being a parent. It means that your life is not just about you anymore, and that you are responsible for another human being.

I remember calling my mum after my first week as a single parent foster carer of 3 teenagers; I thanked her for putting up with all my teenage angst, and told her how I didn’t know how she did it…She told me it was OK, that she loved me, and encouraged me not to give up, that I was doing OK… She laughed when I told her all her sayings that I had used in that week and always swore I would never say to my kids.

I also felt ashamed for some of the hateful things I had said to my mother growing up, names called, anger screamed. Often it was not my mother that I was angry with, but another situation, person or I felt generally sad about my life… I was angry at Mum because she was safe, I knew she would always love me, never reject me; that was something that I never doubted.

Mum was always safe, but it wasn’t until I grew older that we grew closer. I didn’t really understand my mothers strength until I became a woman myself. It wasn’t until I grew up that I saw and understood her love for family, that she would put her own needs and wants aside and solider on in the face of tough times and opposition. It was when I realised this that I finally saw my mothers true beauty and strength.

Neither of my parents are perfect people, we all have our flaws – but I know this.             My Mother is a woman who loves her children, their partners, her grandchildren and extended family with the heart of a lioness combined with a spirit of grace, wisdom and forgiveness.

Not everyone gets a Mother like mine – the work I do is testament to many young people who don’t get a childhood or parents that they need and deserve. My two brothers and I are the lucky ones. Forget about the 70 million dollar Powerball draw – We won the lotto when we got a mum that loves us unconditionally and with passion to see us become the best version of ourselves we can be.

Thanks Mum & Happy Mothers Day,  Love Lin xox

P.S. Remember to tell your Mum what she means to you… and not just on Mothers Day.

Total Eclipse of the Heart

I blogged earlier in the week that there has been some stuff I have dealt with over the past fortnight, and that I might share that later. So here is the story… A fortnight ago I ended up in Hospital with some bad abdominal pain. They did a bunch of tests, and couldn’t find the source. I saw 5 different doctors over the course of my stay, and was given 3 different diagnosis, and a bunch of wrong info.

When I was discharged the doctor told me they had found something else that needed to be followed up, she then said it could wait until I saw my GP on Monday to discuss it and get further tests. The Dr said I could read it when I got home in the letter to my GP as my friends were there to pick me up and take me home. Bad practice right there to start. It was serious news, she should have asked my friends to step outside and given me the info, and allowed me to ask questions, and not send me home alone to read it myself without any way of being able to follow-up with my Doctor until Monday.

I got home and read that one test (of the 4 I had that day) detected fluid backed up on the right side of my heart. In fact I read “Right Sided Heart Failure”… Not helpful… I was stressed. Saturday was a nightmare of a day – I felt so alone and scared. I rang my mum in tears at 12:15am on Sunday morning – I was a wreck…. So Mum and Dad drove down arriving at 1am to try to calm their daughter who was a mess. It was a tough weekend all round for a number of reasons, I am very grateful to have parents who love me and understand that sometimes, despite the courageous facade I put up to the world, I can’t actually handle everything…

Off to my GP on Monday and she sent me for an Echocardiogram… I had that last Thursday and I had to wait a week to get the results. Waiting for the results since first reading the test from the hospital has been a time of high anxiety.  I haven’t coped well with it. I guess I felt that I had abused my body for so long, being obese for so many years that I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. I felt that now that I kinda have some of my sh!t together, loving life and enjoying exercise, having all these fitness goals this year, the rug was going to be ripped out from under me…

Back to the results. I saw my GP yesterday for the results…. I got a clear bill of health – My Heart is all good and functioning within normal limits. Yee Haw!

Giddy Up, was my thought, I am back. I walked out of the doctor’s clinic feeling that I had dodged a bullet and  a smile from ear to ear! So I am back to training, running, and cycling and no need to keep the heart rate down… In fact my trainer did smash me a little last night (Thanks Dave – love it, bring it on more I say)

Being fit and healthy is the priority for me, this scare was again a good reminder that my best defence against illness and disease is a good offence… So I will keep eating well and moving more…. Remembering every time I don’t feel like running how I felt when I thought I wouldn’t be able to again.

But why write this post? Why share so much of my life on here… Despite what some people think, it is not about getting personal attention..  It is about letting people know that change is possible. Life is a choice. Everyday I spent overweight I was closer to dying. Everyday I was depressed, tired and at some levels did not want to live. Now that I have a life again, I don’t want anything to stop me living it. This is why I write my blog. It is about living everyday, but I do have to remember that I have to live with the consequences of my former decisions and life. If you or someone you love or care about is struggling with obesity, know that there is hope… If I can change my life – anyone can, there are solutions, there are second chances;  But I do understand this can be hard to believe if you are in the grip of obesity, there are days that I never believed that could be possible…  Part of my goal now is to be an example to people who feel that they have no hope, no future – to look them in the eye and say; I understand the pain, your journey, I have walked the long, slow, painful mile in those shoes…

You can reclaim your life. It can be better than you even imagine or dream, I never thought it was possible for me, yet here I am living it!

Till next time, Lin xox

Society, Church, Sex & Being Single…

On Monday there was a story doing the rounds of the Australian Media outlets. It featured on Channel 9 news in Melbourne. There is a link to the Courier Mail article at the end for the full context.. Overall it was not a well researched article, and was full of quotes from people designed to get a response and polarize opinion. Well it got me, hook line and sinker… or should I say stinker.

The premise of the story was this; Grab a man if you are a single girl or miss out. (Subtext you are to blame for being single, It is your fault for wanting it all) In fact what really frustrated me was Catholic Church Priest Father Tony Kerin episcopal vicar for justice and social service in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, and his gems (*cough*) of wisdom, that went a little something like this;

“Today’s women wanted the best of both worlds.” “Are women getting too choosy? I’d say yes,” Fr Kerin, speaking on behalf of the archdiocese, said.

“I think many are setting aside their aspirations for later, but by the time they get around to it, they’ve missed their chance. In trying to have it all, they end up missing out.”

WOW – thanks Father; We want the best of both worlds – Really – Too Choosy you say! Can’t we just aspire to have the best life we possibly can? Of course relationships are about compromise, working together, learning to live with differences and  live together.  But we no longer live in a world where as women we are reliant on a marriage to make sure we are “looked after”. I want a partner that is an intellectual, emotional, and sexual equal and treats me like one. No I am not willing to settle for less than that.

I didn’t happen to meet anyone in my 20’s for a bunch of reasons; “Never mind” says the Catholic Church, “that’s your lot in life, you’ve missed your chance Lin now live with it”. Or in Cartoon like fashion I imagine it a little like  this “Haha ha you tried to have it all woman!!! Now take that (slap)”.

There’s an expletive I want to scream at this priest it goes something like; “F#&K OFF!!

Honestly I wasn’t trying to have it all, I was just trying to live my life… My 20’s were hard work and a huge learning curve… I am kind of glad I didn’t get married then, I was a mess; physically and emotionally.

The very statement of women “trying to have it all that they end up missing out” is so misogynistic; And then there is the push to get married, like that doesn’t have anything to do with Christian views on sex.

But hey, don’t worry girls, the  Church doesn’t seem to be such lovers of women unless you are the virgin mother! After all it was a female that ate the apple and lead Adam astray, Women who are depicted as adulterers, and then the bibles love of highlighting the female role of seductress who will lead men astray…Yeah the church has a really healthy view of  relationships and sex… They don’t place any guilt around sex at all right?

But wait there’s more! The article also explains that there are substantially fewer available women than men out there … I also have an issue with the way this was stated in the article, and here is a quote from the article in relation to the work of Demographer Bernard Salt (who is promoting his new book that talks about this topic);

“Demographer Bernard Salt calculated that for single women aged 25 to 34, there is substantially less heterosexual, well-off, young men available after excluding those who were already married, in a de facto relationship, were gay, a single parent or earning less than $60,000 a year.”

The article here makes the assumption that single women aren’t interested in any men that are single parents or earning less than $60,0000 a year. The subtext of this to menfolk; If you have kids, well then women are not interested, if you earn less that $60,000 in the last financial year, sorry mate you’re not a viable option. How bloody insulting to men and women. So as a woman, I must only be interested if you are single, no kids and earn over $60,000. What are you smoking Bernie??

I have dated guys with kids, it is not a deal breaker. I have also dated men that earn less money than me… I can earn my own money thanks. But the figure in the article is also arbitrary given I have dated tradies that earn less than me on paper for tax reasons, but more in real life in their business.

This article does confirm that dating out there is hard. There does seem to be less viable men out there than women. However my single male friends tell me they aren’t finding it any easier either, and that finding a female partner is hard too.

This whole article screams of fear mongering to me; it screams of 1960’s expectations of the lives we need to lead. Hey ladies if you’re not in a relationship of some description there is something wrong with you..can anyone hear the word “Spinster”sitting on the cusp of this article… (Now where are my cats and balls of yarn!)

Thanks Church again for telling me (and other women) that we should follow your prescribed playbook for our lives. Hang on I know what to do; Let me find a man who I don’t get along with, marry him,, quit my job, have a couple of kids and bake all day…    Not that there is anything wrong with being married, having kids and baking all day …     But God forbid you are gay, bisexual or having sex outside of marriage… No, because according to the church that is forbidden, God doesn’t approve, there can be no love for you, no grace… You don’t fit the marriage mould, or aren’t allowed into the “club”.

Now I know plenty of Christians that wouldn’t agree with what the priest said about single women being picky, but I know plenty that would as well.

I know Christians and churches that love and accept straight, gay, bi, tri – well anyone really. But there are also plenty that don’t and actively promote hatred towards people who don’t fit their mould.

What I am sick of is this… Faith groups (of any description, denomination or religion) bullying groups of people and making “holy” unhelpful statements about how people should live their lives. Women in particular have been bashed enough by faiths across the globe. For crying out loud, most women (and men) I know are just trying to navigate their lives the best they can, with what they have, and get through each day. Leave us alone Priests and demographer’s… We got enough on our plates…

Rant over (for now)

Till next time; Lin xox

Grab a man or miss out, girls warned | The Courier-Mail.

Hard Days Week… No excuses

It has been a tough 10 days. A few little setbacks along the way, some soul-searching, and a reality check have all been in there.  I had a great fun day with friends today and I am doing ok, but instead of a hard days night it has been roughly 10 days worth of crap. But the point of this blog post is not to gather sympathy, it is to be real with myself and my readers…

I may blog about some of the crap that has gone down later in the week; and while it is safe to say while I am doing a lot better with all the obstacles put in my way, I have fallen off the food wagon a little.

I am writing this post, because some people assume that I have all of my food and eating patterns together now. Well people, that is a fallacy. I still have my days where I lean towards eating through emotions…Most of the this behaviour is in the past, But compounded issues on issues resulted in me taking a side step into this dangerous territory.  Ice cream is not my friend, and it slides through my band like hot butter. With all its evil sugar, carbs and calories.

The hardest part is I am not supposed to run at the moment until I get a medical clearance (Thursday can’t come quick enough)… And running makes me feel good, helps me deal with stress and as I have stated many times re-aligns my head. No running equals Naughty Lin trying to come out to self sabotage with ice-cream and carbs. Not helpful.

A friend had on her Facebook the other day this little gem of a statement (thanks MAE)

This is truth… It is about making wise choices everyday.  So what if I can’t run at the moment… I can walk, and I can walk for hours if I need too, I can lift weights, and go to yoga… Running may be my favourite exercise, but I can go low intensity for a while. Everything else is an excuse, I have had enough excuses for a lifetime, I am done with them… So my resolution, me being accountable to me (and anyone who reads this),  I intend to choose wisely again, focus on me again – and let all the other crap fall to the way side.

Till next time, Lin xox